Career As Air Traffic Control Specialists at FAA Flight Service StationsAir Traffic Control Specialists at FAA Flight Service Stations  

Air Traffic Control Specialists at FAA Flight Service Stations 

Nature of the Work: The air traffic control specialists at FAA flight service stations render preflight, in-flight and emergency assistance to all pilots on request. They give information about actual weather conditions and forecasts for airports and flight paths; relay air traffic control instructions between controllers and pilots; assist pilots in emergency situations; and initiate searches for missing or overdue aircraft.

Shift work is necessary. They use a telephone, radio and teletypewriter, direction finding and radar equipment. They work in office situations close to communications and computer equipment for forty hours as a normal work-week. Where the Jobs Are: FAA flight service stations are found at approximately 317 locations throughout the United States, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. About 4,300 flight service specialists are employed. Wages: The starting grade is normally GS-7. Trainees are paid while learning their jobs. The highest grade for the flight service specialist is GS-11.

Opportunities for Training: Trainees receive 16 weeks of instruction at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After completion of the training period, they are assigned to developmental positions for on-the-job training under close supervision until successful completion of training. However, those who fail to complete training are separated or reassigned from their positions. The FAA conducts upgrading training programs for specialists continuously. Training in air traffic control continues long after the specialist reaches the full performance level.

Opportunities for Advancement: Excellent opportunities exist for the employee who successfully progresses in his or her training to attain higher grade levels as she or he gains experience and as the responsibilities and the complexity of duties increases. Beginning as a trainee in the flight service station, he or she may advance to an assistant chief, and then to deputy chief or chief of the facility. As a further upward step, a few positions at higher grade levels are available in FAA regional offices with administrative responsibilities over all flight service stations within the area's jurisdiction.

Outlook For the Future: The number of specialists at flight service stations is not expected to increase as are jobs in other areas of air traffic control employment. Flight service stations will serve larger areas with the greater use of long distance telephone and other communications devices. Even though the number of opportunities for jobs for these specialists is not expected to increase greatly, these jobs will be more challenging as automation is introduced and they will be stepping stones to air traffic controller careers in FAA-operated airport traffic control towers and at air route traffic control centers.
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